Philadelphia Eagles and Jim Schwartz face early-season test


Eagles second-year defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz faces an immediate test in the form of Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins

Whenever Philadelphia Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz is thought of, many memories surface. Here’s a weird one. Think back to the 1987 science-fiction comedy Spaceballs. It starred Rick Moranis, Mel Brooks and John Candy. In this well-written spoof of the original Star Wars trilogy, the ‘force’ was renamed ‘schwartz’. That became an ongoing joke throughout the film.

Schwartz isn’t a joke. He’s has worked his way up through the NFL ranks, and he’s served as a head coach with the Detroit Lions. He’s no beginner by any means.

The question still begs. As they said in Spaceballs, “who’s ‘schwartz’ is bigger”?

A game on Sunday:

Week one of the NFL regular season kicks off on Sunday. Washington Redskins offensive coordinator Matt Cavanaugh, a longtime NFL player and assistant coach, is entering his first year in his current position in the nation’s capital.

Schwartz may have a leg up on the Redskins this year. That, alone, is a switch from both games in Washington a year ago. The ‘Skins not only have a first-year coordinator calling the plays, Schwartz no longer has to worry about containing wide receivers DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garçon.

Schwartz cited the potantial of limiting the damage caused by Redskins receivers this week while talking to

"It always comes down to the same things: stop the run, no big plays. A couple of guys gave us some trouble last year particularly Pierre Garçon made some key catches in both games so I’m not sorry to see him gone. DeSean (Jackson) the same way. They’ve replaced those guys and moved up draft picks, things like that but I’m not going to be disappointed not to see those guys on the field."

Then and now:

It’s one thing to limit the damage that Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins can cause. It’s another to, as Schwartz mentioned, stop the run.

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In both losses to the Redskins in 2017, the Eagles defense gave up 27 points. Still, Cousins wasn’t exactly the most lethal factor in those games.

In the first game at Washington, the Eagles run defense was obliterated by ‘Skins running back Matt Jones. He now plays for the Indianapolis Colts, and he averaged a ridiculous 8.4 yards-per-carry en route to a 16-carry, 135-yard performance. Then-rookie tailback Rob Kelley added 59 more yards on just five carries, good for an 11.8 yards-per-carry average.

All in all, the Eagles gave up a total of 230 yards in the first loss, but they improved by 107 yards in the rematch at Lincoln Financial Field two months later.

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To this point, it matters not if Jackson and Garçon are playing elsewhere in 2017. These two did the relatively modest, yet effective, damage they did last season because of the systemic destruction that the Redskins were able to cause the Eagles defensive front.

How big is Jim’s ‘schwartz?

Well, it’ll have to be quite a bit bigger than it was last year.